• Marie Hasler
Cultural Affairs

Grand Hall Christchurch Arts Centre

Good afternoon everyone I am absolutely thrilled to be here today to open this third Adam International Cello Festival and Competition.

Thank you for this invitation.

I would like to take this opportunity to especially acknowledge the international panel of judges who have come together for this event - Karine Georgian, Natalia Pavlutskaya, Philippe Muller, Nathan Waka and Alexander Ivashkin.

Mr Ivashkin, as most of you will be aware, is also the Festival Artistic Director. We are very fortunate to have had Mr Ivashkin and his wife Natalia, giving so much of their personal time and energy to this competition, to Christchurch and to New Zealand.

I know they will be sorely missed when Mr Ivashkin takes up an appointment as Professor of Music at the University of London in September.

I would also like to welcome our competitors from around the world. Obviously there would be no competition without these fine young artists; and to the host families who are with us today, thank you for your hospitality and support.

I am heartened to see so many young people involved in the world of music, many dedicating their lives to an art form that gives so many of us so much pleasure.

Festivals and competitions such as this one are invaluable as they nurture and foster the talent of the young.

In my role as Minister for Culture and Heritage I have been fortunate to see many and varied cultural groups and individuals perform at locations throughout New Zealand.

This is an honour for me as I realise all the work and practice that goes into any performance. I know the young competitors here today have been working hard for some time towards this competition, and this in itself is a worthwhile achievement.

This festival brings together 19 competitors from all over the world - from Europe, from Russia to Great Britain, the United States, our Pacific neighbours, Korea and Japan, our near neighbour Australia, and two young women from right here in Christchurch. We are indeed fortunate to be experiencing the best of the best.

How exciting for these young people to be here to share and learn from each other as well as having the opportunity to take part in the master classes offered by the talented panel of judges.

Competitions like this one are an inspiration to our young competitors - giving them the opportunity to meet others with similar interests and to develop important skills that will enable them to take on the world.

While I realise you must all be disappointed your Patron Mstislav Rostropovich has, through illness, been unable to attend this year's festival and competition, I have no doubt his drive and talent for the cello is an inspiration to you all.

We all wish him a very speedy recovery.

Over the years, indeed the centuries, patronage of the arts has been a valuable and viable way of ensuring our cultural history is sustained and recorded for future generations.

A significant part of this patronage is fostering and encouraging our young people and their talent. Nurturing our young artists is crucial if we are to maintain high standards as well as provide them with opportunities to flourish.

New Zealand is very fortunate to have an outstanding patron of the arts, Mr Denis Adam, a Trustee of the Adam Foundation. Mr Adam and his wife Verna established the Adam Foundation in 1975.

Since then the Adam Foundation has sponsored, supported, purchased and donated an exciting range of artistic events, works and assets.

In 1989 the foundation was principal funder of the Adam Concert Room at the Victoria School of Music. Later this year an art collection owned by the foundation will be on permanent loan to a public gallery in Wellington.

Annual events sponsored by the Foundation include a chamber music summer school in Nelson, a play reading series in Wellington, and a creative writing award. This festival and competition is one of several biennial events and the Foundation also supports many other individuals and events on the cultural scene.

Mr Adam's name is associated with many and various cultural events and we owe him a great deal for his foresight and generosity. I know he is bitterly disappointed he is unable to be with us today, but I understand he has come through his operation successfully, and although feeling tired, he is eager to get back to work again.

I'm sure he will be heartened to hear ongoing reports of the competition. Our best wishes go with him today for a most healthy and full recovery.

This festival has had support from many quarters and I would like to draw your attention to the many sponsors outlined in the programme. Without their tremendous support, events like this would be extremely difficult to get off the ground.

While saying a huge thank you to all the sponsors I would like to particularly note the support of NAXOS, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and Creative New Zealand.

As most of you will be aware, Government also has a role as patron. Government provides direct funding of arts organisations, such as the NZSO, and distributes funding through its various granting agencies such as Creative New Zealand.

The Government's aim is to complement market mechanisms in order to enable a wider range of artistic works to be produced and presented, than otherwise would be the case and, in particular, to ensure that New Zealanders have access to works that reflect, and reflect on, our history, identity and culture.

Public funding is often a relatively small proportion of arts organisations' total revenue, but underpins their artistic and financial viability. Government support enables a much greater range and quality of creative work to be produced and presented than would otherwise be the case.

And where better to present a festival such as this than in Christchurch. Your city already has a reputation for being New Zealand's Garden City. While not wanting to detract from this title, I know culturally Christchurch has many facets.

From your fine gardens with all the exhibitions centering around them and your idyllic park and river (no longer flooded I hope), there's your theatre, opera and dance, galleries, the book festival, your shows, fetes, parades, street theatre, cafe culture and the Christchurch Arts Festival.

I am so impressed with the Christchurch cultural scene and wish I was able to spend more time here.

Unfortunately, my taste of this festival is all too brief as commitments in both Wellington and Auckland prevent my attendance at other events.

I do wish all our young competitors a most enjoyable and rewarding time over the next few days and look forward to hearing how each of you fares. I know the next few days will be a most valuable experience for you all.

It now gives me great pleasure to declare this festival and competition open.